Greenwald Tries to Settle A Score, Fails

Today Glenn Greenwald tweeted this:

One reads this and instantly knows some score is being settled. Hmm, thinks the avid Greenwald follower, seems someone suggested Greenwald should do something and then failed to do it themselves. Coward! Hypocrite! Leave Glenn alone! *fave* *retweet*

The no doubt small number of Greenwald followers that actually read the article would have discovered that it confirms very little of what Greenwald is insinuating. In a nutshell: there is a conflict brewing between Greenwald and the less sycophantic cryptography specialists over disclosure of NSA technical details. The subject of the article Greenwald linked to is Matthew Green, a cryptography professor at Johns Hopkins who not long ago politely tweeted:

I think there’s more useful information in those documents than you realize. Please do bring in more experts.

To which Greenwald replied:

Any time you’d like to come to Rio to work journalistically on the docs, that’d be great — let me know.

As the Baltimore Sun reported, Green declined, but his reasons are significant. Between his tweets and subsequent comments to The Sun, they summarize as follows:

1. He didn’t “‘want to end up having to keep secrets’ like researcher and cryptographer Bruce Schneier” who is working with Greenwald now.

2. He feels that emergence into the limelight would also impede his ability to speak freely.

3. The international intrigue surrounding Greenwald’s work, and the possible dangers that come with it, have discouraged him from leaving his family.

Put another way, Green expects that the gains from speaking within the narrow constraints set by both the Guardian and potential mischaracterizations by the media at large would not be commensurate with the risk. One could add that after taking on the most high-risk work — work that actually aims at disrupting the NSA’s operations instead of some anodyne, circumscribed ‘debate’ that even DNI Clapper is ok with at this point — it would still be Greenwald grabbing the headlines , the book deals and the overblown hagiographies about ‘saving the media.’

Since Green only suggested Greenwald involve more experts, the connection to Greenwald’s broken record about demanding the release of more documents isn’t obvious. Whatever Greenwald means, it’s clearly lost on him that Green’s anxieties follow to a large extent from Greenwald’s top-down custodianship and the showboating that goes with it.  He also fails to comprehend, or pretends to misapprehend,  that he and Green are not equals.  Green has nothing of Greenwald’s experience in dealing with the media, which Greenwald helpfully made mandatory by making his invitation publicly. Green also has far fewer fortifications against reprisals for disclosing state secrets, especially disclosures that might genuinely impede the NSA’s functioning.  Since his employer, Johns Hopkins, recently demanded that he take down a blog post about the NSA, it’s clear that the professional stakes are much different for him than they are for Greenwald, who gets a salary and book and movie deals for writing about the NSA.

So yeah, Greenwald is right if what he means is it’s hard to get people to do genuinely disruptive shit for you, when all they get out of it is risk, a risk that is increased when the invitation is 50% grandstanding that throws them into the spotlight, requires them to navigate the rights-deficient purgatory of international air travel,  and promises alignment with someone increasingly inclined to shaming and berating even deferential critics.  But I don’t think that’s what he meant.

Now how many of those 49 RT-ers and 23 favers (at last count)  actually read the article Greenwald linked to? I think anyone who has ever been the object of a beatdown based on a Greenwald smear would guess very few. Twitter is increasingly for enthusiasts of a media meta-narrative of heroes and villains, rather than of actual content itself. Many of them skim, if they read at all, and infantile, status-worshiping cults form around certain personalities who happily do their reading and interpreting for them. This is something Greenwald, with his 200k+ followers, discovered quite some time ago, knowledge he now deftly wields to remake intellectual property hoarding, protection of national security and the meticulous vetting of leaks by connected, white American know-it-alls as radical resistance.


In an otherwise thoroughly predictable interview with the BBC (Spoiler: Almost nothing about mass surveillance), Greenwald discloses one other way in which he differs from Green and all those other recipients of ‘Come to Rio’ taunts:

The Brazilian government has actually offered me and provided me security.

You’re a coward, said a guy with government bodyguards to a guy who’d made a friendly suggestion.

It’s near 9:34 in yet one more cheesy performance of heroic liberal journalism getting back to its Hollywood roots via hissy-fits about itself.



A Reader Comments on Greenwald and ‘The Debate’

Oligarchs Approve the NSA Debate. I Guess We’re #Winning

Cliffs Notes for a Pile-On

Dr. Rosen and The Snowden Effect

My reply to Glenn Greenwald’s Comments on Take Your Drip and Stick It

Fuck The Guardian: Take Your Drip and Stick It

Fuck The Guardian Part 2

Fuck The Guardian Part 1

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61 Responses to Greenwald Tries to Settle A Score, Fails

  1. nigh says:

    Greenwald s invitation to Green was actually an aggressive subliminal formulation of conditions that disable per se any kind of cooperation. i believe Green was right not to follow such an invitation and he also mentions in his answer some of the unspoken conditions of that cooperation. Further, because the “invitation” was set up to be “refused”, we can without doubt stress, that Greenwald is not only not willing to share the entrusted by Snowden info with others, he also is NOT ABLE to share it. My hypothesis: He has no fucking clue what he really holds in hands, for him this is a big “story” for media attention and quotes. I therefore must agree absolutely with Greens decision to reject Greenwald s invitation: It was an unethical move to prove in public space that he – Greenwald – is the only one who can carry the weight of this information. Of course covering up his inability to factually put it in scene and making it available for the political fight. Im really angry with Greenwald for this grave misuse of a person within the setting of his own public attention. This constitutes in my eyes the definition of arrogance.

    • Tarzie says:

      The guy couldn’t have been nicer with his timid suggestion. But no, he committed the grievous error of saying Greenwald might not know something. That perhaps something could be done better. So naturally, he had to be publicly shamed.

      GG gets more and more disgusting as the people on the left holding him to account gets smaller and more timid. But this shit is bound to start rubbing off on the people who continue to give him a pass.

      • nigh says:

        actually i believe the “people on the left holding him to account” gets bigger – he just isnt able to see it from his wuthering heights 🙂

  2. goodkurtz says:

    Greenwald’s flaws were always evident. Now “success” is bringing out the worse in him.
    He carries on in this manner and he’ll not be much longer at The Guardian

  3. AmishRakeFight says:

    In my opinion, this set of events actually argues in favor of more disclosure, so it’s amusing that Greenwald linked to this article (though as you suggest, I don’t think he’s counting on very many people reading it with an impartial mind).
    This whole thing shows yet another complication of Greenwald’s monopoly on the documents. Any technical experts who are eager to make use of their specialized knowledge to analyze the documents, perhaps (I’d say likely) uncovering things overlooked so far, must enter into Greenwald’s little journalistic club and assume the risks and burdens that come with it. Because people like Green are understandably reluctant, Greenwald gets to boast about how he looks like the brave dissident, and so few are willing to benevolently make the sacrifices he made. The myth gets stronger. And if Green were to accept, Greenwald gets to exploit Green’s expertise to grab more headlines as, you describe. Either way, Greenwald wins.
    Contrast this to a hypothetical situation where more of the technical documents are public and hundreds of experts like Green can comment on them and analyze them at will and without risk. Information is revealed at an exponentially higher rate – it cannot be managed by those who wish to tightly control the debate, as it has been so far.
    Now, which of these situations presents a greater threat to the surveillance state? (Of course to you and those who have followed your series, that’s a rhetorical question)
    Also, I annoyingly feel the need to attach a disclaimer here that I’m not advocating for Greenwald to dump all the documents, lest he or any of his dumb followers wish to strike up that old bullshit false dichotomy.

    • Tarzie says:

      Excellent observations. Most of Greenwald’s alibis are actually all about troubles his iron grip causes. So hard to tell what part of him is self-serving and what part is genuinely kind of clueless. Whatever it is, it’s starting to border on megalomania. I mean, this guy did nothing, but still he shames him.

      Just ignore the dumb followers and their dichotomy. My bigger concern is other people I respect in the transparency/security world who are giving this bullshit a pass for their own self-serving reasons. This is why we can’t have nice things.

      • AmishRakeFight says:

        “I mean, this guy did nothing, but still he shames him.” – Yeah, it’s pretty disgusting.
        I think Greenwald’s offer to Green was genuine, but when Green declined, instead of saying something to the effect of, “Understood. Please let me know if you change your mind,” Greenwald just can’t let an opportunity to slightly prop himself up go to waste. All for a handful of re-tweets and favorites – pathetic.
        One thing Glenn’s recent nastiness has taught me is to never forget that he’s a fucking lawyer. Never misses an opportunity to strengthen his case, even if it means wading into some serious slime. And he knows he doesn’t have to win the argument on the merits, thus he has no problem distorting criticism aimed at his monopoly/tactics/methods or ignoring inconvenient points. As you said, the number of people on his left crying foul is getting smaller and is already too marginalized to make much difference, and he knows it. Fucking asshole.

      • Tarzie says:

        AmishRakeFight —

        I think the offer was genuine in that he’d follow through if his bluff were called, but the offer is first and foremost very obviously for show: A put up or shut up ritual, which essentially says you can’t criticize until you are willing to take on MORE risk than he is taking on while receiving far fewer rewards.

        I also don’t think he’s is doing this just ‘for a few retweets.’ It’s about discouraging criticism overall by making public examples of people who attempt it.

    • nigh says:

      also: within the frame of investigative journalism “experts” do enjoy a special status of neutrality. Greenwald just lies about the legal frame so he can define the conditions of the “story”.

    • AmishRakeFight says:

      Interesting observation about the offer essentially being a bluff to preempt criticism, and I think you’re right. The fact Greenwald chose to publicly make the offer on Twitter syncs up very well with this idea.
      And your last point is also bang on. It was a bit foolish for me to suggest that Greenwald would behave that way solely for a few approving re-tweets out of his 200,000+ followers. “It’s about discouraging criticism overall by making public examples of people who attempt it.” – There’s just nothing to add to that.
      Thanks for the discussion and for helping me refine my perspective a bit more. I’m trying to be less of a lurker here, and I got a little fired up today, haha.

  4. x7o says:

    Any time you’d like to come to Rio to work journalistically on the docs, that’d be great — let me know.

    Would that make Greenwald a source, rather than a journalist, according to the rubric he spoke of before?

    Or would the fact that it happened in Rio, or that they shared a byline, or some other apparently crucial but unspecifiable difference, make this invitation consistent with the fact that Greenwald says he can’t share documents with newspapers around the world?

    I’m still having trouble charitably imagining how the (reportedly) legal reasoning here might be just a little contaminated by other interests.

    More broadly, this just makes me feel sorry for Green.

    • Tarzie says:

      It seems as if you have to share your byline with him, unless you’re the New York Times or Pro Publica or other writers at the Guardian. It makes no sense.

    • Paley Chayd says:

      Looks like Green isn’t feeling too insulted:

      Just cause some people are saying stuff: I think @ggreenwald is being properly cautious and incredibly brave. I also think he needs experts.— Matthew Green (@matthew_d_green) September 30, 2013

      • Tarzie says:

        I figured Green would do that and if you think that’s not political, or answers at all to my critique, or if you think my critique was intended as a defense of Green, you misinterpreted me. But glad to hear ‘people are saying stuff.’

      • Paley Chayd says:

        That wasn’t my point. I was going to suggest that x7o should feel even sorrier for Green for that suckuppy tweet. Greenwald basically insults him, and Green just turns around and kisses his ass.

      • Tarzie says:

        Ahhh, I was wonderin’. Yeah, it’s grotesque. This is how power works.

  5. Paley Chayd says:

    Greenwald says, “it’s much easier to demand that *others release more documents than it is to release them yourself.” Green doesn’t have the documents to release. And even if Green accepted Greenwald’s offer, Green wouldn’t be the one releasing them. Greenwald insults Green not doing something he’s in no position to do, and wouldn’t be even if he joined Greenwald’s team. Not only that, Greenwald is putting himself on a pedestal as if he’s willing to release the documents, when he clearly isn’t. If he was, he’d just fucking email some of them to other journalists and experts to “work journalistically” on them. Does that make sense? I feel like I’m talking in circles. Maybe I’m just rephrasing something you already said.

    I’m also curious about who the “less sycophantic transparency advocates and security specialists” are. Are there any good articles to read or people to follow on this subject?

    Honestly, it sounds like that Greenwald tweet could be directed at you. This type of criticism is obviously on his mind. I wonder if it’s getting louder, or if he’s feeling just a teensy-weensy bit guilty.

    • Tarzie says:

      I’m also curious about who the “less sycophantic transparency advocates and security specialists” are. Are there any good articles to read or people to follow on this subject?

      I am only just getting into this stuff myself. Actually the better known ones are the most sycophantic. Bruce Schneier, the guy mentioned in the post as working with Greenwald is good. He’s got a blog and he writes for the Guardian.

      Honestly, it sounds like that Greenwald tweet could be directed at you. This type of criticism is obviously on his mind.

      Ha ha. It’s a small gaggle of people that have been on his case about this. The crypto people have been on him since the story about NSA breaking encryption came out a few weeks ago. That’s when I started beating harder on him, because that’s when he really started showing what a controlling dick he is planning to be.

      I don’t think he feels guilty, but I think he wants everyone on the left to see the sun shining from his ass. I think that’s why he went so overboard belittling me. I kind of miss admiring him, because now everything he does gets filtered through a different lens and it’s really not pretty.

  6. Jay says:

    As I’ve stated many a times, I have thoroughly enjoyed this line of debate between Tarzie and Glenn, respect both of their positions, and admire them both. While I enjoyed reading this post and found it thought provoking as always – I’m siding with Glenn here. He has consistently asserted that his agreement with Snowden was not to release anything before vetting it with experts. As many around here have pointed out, there is a dearth of experts in his circle…. so what else is the guy supposed to do? He is trashed as a gatekeeper, then when he offers to open the gate you look into his soul and dismiss it as “for show”. These critiques are turning extremely personal and it’s disappointing. Not disappointing because they are necessarily wrong – maybe he’s a huge asshole, maybe in his heart of hearts he didn’t want Green to come down…. who cares? He made a valid offer (not even Tarzie contests that) and Green turned him down. Green doesn’t want to risk his VERY CUSHY LIFESTYLE as a tenured professor at an elite institution. He’s a got a great job and family to worry about it. I can’t judge him too negatively for that…. but this nonsense of “speaking more freely” spouting speculation being somehow more valuable to the discussion than his analysis of the actual documents is total crap. He doesn’t want to rock the very comfortable boat he’s living on. Few people do, but let’s be honest about that.

    Tarzie I’ve been watching this debate for a while, but it’s time for you to elaborate on some of these “narrow constraints” you purport would be placed on Green thereby influencing his decision. (Even though Green claims no such influence.) According to Glenn, the preeminent constraint is lack of experts to analyze in accordance with Snowden’s wishes…. this exchange is consistent with that. Just what evidence do you have Green would be subject to a burdensome Greenwald/Guardian muzzle if he joined the team? He didn’t pass up the opportunity because he feared muzzling (ask him! what else can we go on other than his word?), he passed up the chance because he’s got a sweet life/family he doesn’t want to risk interrupting. He all but admitted that was his motivation…. yet you ascribe his sheepishness to celebrity worship of Glenn rather than his own recognition that he doesn’t have the cojones to do what he would like others to do.

    Finally, what are these immense “fortifications” Glenn has you speak of? I think you greatly overestimate his celebrity and stature. You wrote a fantastic blog post on the Michael Hastings “accident”…. what makes Glenn immune to such potential risks? Apparently he’s not fortified enough to feel comfortable re-entering the country. Green has perhaps the most powerful professional fortification there is as a tenured professor… and yet he still doesn’t want to risk it. Again, I don’t judge him too negatively for it…. but the specter of a Greenwald muzzle is not what is holding him back.

    And I still think you desperately need a twitter vacation.

    • Tarzie says:

      To quote Andy Warhol, did you type this all yourself?

      Go back and read this again, try harder with fewer words. This, for instance, is a mischaracterization worthy of Greenwald:

      He made a valid offer (not even Tarzie contests that)

      That you speculate baselessly about Green’s real motives, while giving Greenwald the benefit of the doubt on everything is highly suspect.

      The Hastings/Greenwald comparison could not be less apt. For all your professed enthusiasm for this argument, you are clearly missing the point.

      I am done explaining myself to people who can’t read/operate in bad faith/aren’t very bright.

  7. Jay says:

    I am directly on-topic. Is Hersh “drip drip gatekeeping in the name of book sales/personal glorification” or is he evaluated under a different standard?

    • Tarzie says:

      Hersh’s distinguished journalism does not make him relevant to this conversation. I don’t care what Hersh thinks about strategy and we are not talking about dripping anymore anyway. But if we were, there is no comparison between writing a book about the OBL raid and hoarding a giant trove of state secrets. You’re derailing.

  8. goodkutyz says:

    Is a Green a lower rank than a Greenwald?
    And if it is, why then doesn’t Greenwald just charge Green with insubordination?

  9. Trish says:

    Glenn puts out his name and shame, “come to rio tweet”, making a mockery of what Glenn has repeatedly said. That this work is dnagerous, and that danger is lurking everywhere, leaving him no choice but to work on every story.

    Knowing this, what was Green expected to do? rather than reach out to Green in private, so that Green could understand the dangers involved, find out to what extent, if any, he would be protected by the same legal team and resources protecting Glenn, Glenn challenges him in public thus notifying everyone of the offer, without Green being able to asses the risks and protection he would be given. Glenn should be ashamed of this type of showboating, and grandstanding BS. His ego is really running amok.

    But do not fear, Glenn just tweeted FASCINATING EVEN Michael Hayden thinks there should be more transparency. I think your assesment of Glenn is correct. He is a useful idiot.

    • Tarzie says:

      That’s a really good observation. The ‘come to Rio’ tweets do seem at odds with all the looming dangers we keep hearing about. Scahill’s gleefully tweeted trips to and fro also strike a weird note.

      Not surprised that Hayden is now on board or that starry-eyed GG thinks it’s ‘fascinating and revealing’. What a joke. I think the best thing for lefts to do is to simply ignore the Approved NSA Story as mediated by Greenwald and The Guardian. In their hands it becomes an elaborate fraud, a cheesy spectacle of heroic journalism and hyped ‘exclusives’, that in the end will only acclimate people to these abysmal conditions. It’s so stupid, it’s degrading and mean.

  10. Pingback: Oligarchs Approve The NSA Debate. I Guess We’re #Winning | The Rancid Honeytrap

  11. nigh says:

    i realize you are not following the the AMA with Greenwald – happy you – except maybe one unanswered question: Has the NSA tried to subvert Linux kernel security?

    • Tarzie says:

      Actually I put up a bunch of questions, watched them get downvoted by trolls, read some of Greenwald’s bullshit and acquitted myself.

      I don’t understand what you’re getting at.

  12. Laurence Lange says:

    Clearly he places a lot more value on ‘debates’ and reforms than I do.

    The problem with process mavens and their insistence on “reform” is simple, and best illustrated by the example I saw recently in The Rum Diary. The speaker is a developer proposing a big housing project in Puerto Rico. He’s played by Bill Smitrovich, the dad from the ’89-93 era moralistic prime time familiy drama Life Goes On.

    “Let’s say you want to build 5k units. So you go in asking for 15k units. The opponents say that’s far too many, the government wants to appear reasonable. So it floats the possibility of 10k units. The opponents again complain, so then you (developer) say let’s accept 5k in the interest of compromise. You smell honorable, Government looks reasonable, opponents not nearly as mad as they were, and you got exactly what you wanted.”

    The movie isn’t all that great, but that scene alone makes it worth watching as a perfect example of where “reformism” always leads.

  13. Laurence Lange says:

    Has the NSA tried to subvert Linux kernel security?

    Seems the wrong question. Too narrow in focus.

    NSA as an entity employing many (both directly and contractually) is quite well aware of how Linux systems work at the programming level. Linux may be unfamiliar to people using Windows and Mac systems, but it’s widely used at the enterprise level.

    NSA is familiar with all forms of computer data management, including the various operating systems in play for data management. Through that familiarity, kernel security or insecurity would be fairly standard knowledge-base stuff. And while it’s currently soft-leftist chic to say government is “incompetent” I think it would be reckless and surreal to imagine that NSA would not have employees or contractors who can subvert kernel security in any operating system.

    It would be a lot like asking, “do you think the Lotus pit crew at the 24 Hrs of LeMans would know how to bleed the brakes on a McLaren?” Of course they would. Bleeding brakes is part of generic automotive maintenance and repair, and the mechanics hired for pit crews tend toward skillful and far away from internet-expert status (talks a good game, never bled a brake).

    But in any case, why is the Q of Linux kernel security even an issue? Are you wondering whether NSA can watch your doings while working under Ubuntu? Seems a highly irrelevant Q from my view.

  14. Laurence Lange says:

    I don’t think the lack of novelty alone argues for the pointlessness of the leaks or for the ‘limited hangout’ theory.

    Would be a good counter if that were my position you countered. But it’s not my position. If I speak of absent novelty, that goes to the fakeness of Greenwald’s surmised journalistic-slash-analytic-slash-dudewithhotconnections chops. It also goes to the point of what Americans obsess over — The New. Our glorious consumption-oriented society turns on The New, runs on The Upgrade. Thus Greenwald drips out a “new” revelation every few days. But each “new” thing isn’t new at all. Thus it’s all artifice.

    I have been arguing for less management of the process, not more. This should be obvious.

    Actually it’s not obvious at all. Which is why I responded in an earlier comment to your speaking of how things are managed. Why even discuss management if management isn’t a concern? The angle to argue there, if it’s not a concern, is to say No Management Needed. Full stop. But you have toyed with the “nuance” of Greenwald’s management. I guess that’s due to a love of sparring. However, you concede part of his argument when you discuss those nuances.

    It’s not all about Americans. Americans are the most passive people on Earth. All the more reason to discount this whole undertaking until it opens up.

    That dog will catch his tail eventually, if only he keeps chasing it.

    So you’re making these arguments on behalf of… whom? The denizens of the Isle of Man? A few people in Liechtenstein? A befuddled Tasmanian? Someone who lives in the Seychelles?

    I think if the disclosures weren’t being so meticulously vetted and slowly published, there might be a little more impact, that’s all.

    Impact upon what? Or upon whom? And what kind of impact?

    Incrementalism is a meliorist’s goal. Process will help us realize our goals. Please keep with Roberts Rules of Order during this meeting, else tempers will flare and people might actually speak of their hidden agendas right out here in the open!

  15. Tarzie says:


    I have been arguing for less management of the process, not more. This should be obvious.


    Actually it’s not obvious at all.

    Maybe you should read my posts instead of being that guy everyone scrolls past.

    • Laurence Lange says:

      Maybe you should read my posts instead of being that guy everyone scrolls past.

      Seriously? A “popularity” dig? Like that’s supposed to create some kind of nefarious ego effect on me?

      Bubke, I read your words. And it vaporizes credulity to suggest I lack reading comprehension.

  16. Laurence Lange says:

    ARF — One thing Glenn’s recent nastiness has taught me is to never forget that he’s a fucking lawyer. (extrapolations from that point omitted)

    He’s a failed lawyer who got shit-canned by the Big Wall Street Firm he worked for, after only 1 year. No mustard cut. Mettle tested, found wanting.

    He’s an unethical, slimy fuck. Which some may equate simply with “lawyer,” but I think those who draw that synonymous conclusion are not exactly well acquainted with the entire populace of lawyers. As a rule, lawyers are no more slimy than babysitters, lawn cutters, beauticians, social workers, or founders of non-profit entities. Like most job situations, law practice has enticements to rule-bending. Even the saintly young woman who babysits the hyphenated-surname offspring of modern politically correct hipster couple will be tempted to invite her boyfriend over after she puts little Gaia Hochstein-Branczyk to bed. Even the noble Guatemalan immigrant who works under a green card at Zelda’s Artisanal Fingertip Creations tuning and beautifying the phalanges of fresh young bohemians is tempted to find ways to maximize her intake and minimize her output.

    Greenwald’s lying egocentrism isn’t a product of his being a lawyer. It’s a result of failing at legal work and still pining for Global Celebrity.

  17. Jeff Nguyen says:

    “If the structure does not permit dialogue the structure must be changed” ― Paulo Freire

    As long as the ruling class by means of the dominant culture by means of its vast propagandized media and entertainment outlets controls the discourse, it will always stick to the narratives that benefit the storytellers. To put it another way, has there been any measure of change affected by these “leaks”? Has the NSA been forced by Congress to stop or even curtail warrantless eavesdropping on American citizens? If the answer is no, then the “leaks” haven’t achieved squat. Are whistleblowers any safer from the full weight and force of the federal government making it rain on them vis a vis Bradley Manning? If the answer is no, then the “leaks” haven’t achieved squat. Snowden told us nothing that anyone with a semi-paranoid or thoughtful bone in their body didn’t already suspect. The surveillance state has been normalized along with the paramilitary state. My teenagers have grown up thinking these things are typical in a free, democratic society. Snowden and Greenwald can take the next decade “leaking” state secrets for all I care.

    • Tarzie says:

      But we’re having a debate!!!

      Why do you hate Greenwald? Why do you love the NSA? How long have you been an authoritarian?

      Whatsa matter, you jelly?


      Love the quote. So apt.

  18. Tarzie says:

    Ha ha.

  19. not a sockpuppet says:

    I am sympathetic with many of your criticism and suspicious of quite a few things about Greenwald, and yet more sympathetic with Greenwald than you are.

    I want to put a question to you that I don’t think you’ve answered as clearly as I’d like, in the frame that seems applicable to me: what would you like to see happen with the document trove, however big it is?

    You’ve answered that in the abstract to some extent, but not with regard to the specific point you don’t seem to want to acknowledge: those documents clearly contain the names of intelligence assets, both of the US and its allies. some of those asset names are clearly what has been blacked out in the documents we’ve seen.

    releasing or transferring those documents with the names intact is, under current US law, including the Constitution we are all concerned about, a crime with a simple name: treason. Treason in the US is punishable by death.

    you can argue that it shouldn’t be, but there is no “whistleblower” exemption for treason. this is why the Guardian, New York Times, Washington Post *must* run these documents by US Govt officials before publishing. They do not want to be guilty of treason. They do not want to commit treason. Treason is punishable by death. Maybe those laws should be changed, but there is not a shred of ambiguity about where those laws stand now. To publish the documents without letting the Executive branch comment on areas that might be seen as treasonous to publish will open any publisher or any transferer of those documents to he charge of treason. That is a heavy, heavy charge to deal with for one’s whole life.

    Given what we’ve seen so far, do you think there is material in the documents that justifies the commission of treason? is there material that you think would have a significantly better impact on the public debate had it not been redacted?

    You criticize Greenwald for being a gatekeeper and the “drip, drip, drip.” I think he is fully aware that even the act of giving these documents to another party, *even if* they are a legitimate journalist, due to the contents of the documents themselves, could very well constitute treason. That was the first thing I thought of when I saw Green’s comments: even to see the documents might put him in possession of knowledge that would put him in reasonable fear of his life and freedom until and unless the entire matter were handled in a Federal court.

    If Greenwald (and Snowden) were to do any kind of mass document release, not only they but those who received the documents would be at very real risk of a death penalty charge that might well stick.

    I have not yet personally seen information that convinces me that there is anything potentially in them so explosive that it is worth risking the death penalty over. We need to have a robust debate about intelligence collection around the entire world; the documents have more than proven that. Their continued release continues to prove that, in the eyes of many.

    So: what do you think might be proven additionally by a much more aggressive release of documents? Who do you think should expose themselves to the charge of treason to do so? Would you personally be willing to commit treason in order to see more of the documents released? Would you be willing to submit to the penalty for doing so? Or is your hope that these documents will not simply cause significant reform to intelligence collection but the actual overthrow of the US Government, so that actions currently and clearly defined as treason would no longer be?

    These question are not meant archly, or to be hyperbolic, or anything of the sort. The case law makes clear that information contained in those files must be of the sort that has brought about convictions for treason in the US already. There is every reason to believe this is a major part of the caution being exercised by everyone involved. I am honestly wondering how you think this very serious issue could be handled better.

    • Tarzie says:

      Have you read my other posts? I ask because I think I have answered just about all your questions.

      The short version is I think it was a mistake to hand this trove off to Greenwald and practically no one else. The more I look at this, the more inclined I am to think that Snowden should have anonymously mass-distributed the leaks and been done with it.

      But with this paternalistic system a done deal, I would like to see The Guardian distribute the docs to trusted news providers in every country with a relatively free press and, per Snowden’s stated intent, leave the decision of what to publish to those local news providers. If that’s too risky, I would be ok with The Guardian and co redacting out the kinds of things that are likely to invoke charges of treason, such as the names of NSA operatives etc. and distribute them that way.

      I would like to see the documents shared with more cryptographers so that NSA techniques for getting around privacy software can be widely known, and engineers can create defenses against them.

      I am not sympathetic to defenses of Greenwald that place his vulnerability front and center. Investigative journalism, if it is to make an impact, is risky. If you are unwilling to take on those risks, you should pass on the offer of documents. It’s really that simple. I do not care that Greenwald wants to get rich from a bestseller without risk. I don’t fucking care. He should have declined Snowden’s offer because clearly he’s not up for everything it entails.

    • nigh says:

      What the Snowden-leaks mean to me is that the US are committing grave crimes against humanity. They should and must be prosecuted by the competent courts for their actions. As to the “treason”: Journalists should and must be protected for their work in revealing crimes. If they know and do not reveal the names of NSA cooperatives in diverse countries, actually they are complicit in the crimes committed. My opinion: They must reveal escpecially the information that can enable other countries to fight against their own elites. And, yes, for my part i would take the risk, if i was in the position to know.

  20. Pingback: Viva The New Journalism | The Rancid Honeytrap

  21. diane says:

    Of course I can’t prove it, but the Snowden bit seems to be directly related to a highly ugly punitive notice which AT&T enclosed in their last statement, which (reading between the lines) threatens AT&T customers about illegally recording conversations (While AT&T has been privy to, and a more than willing Profiteer party to the fact that corporations and the Government have been allowed, legally (let alone the illegal part), via loopholes written into The Law to record every complaint and outraged comment ‘the populace’ utters. This, …. from AT&T, which “illegally” wiretapped all of its “customers.”

    And bleakly hilarious that one, as our continually Progressing!!!!!! technology, has pretty much obsolesced recording devices which are not ultimately fed to The Cloud. I have two tape recorders which I’ve attempted to record abuse by Corporations/Employers/ and Corrupt Politicians conversations on, neither of them work anymore, and they aren’t even old.

    I remember calling AT&T a few years back and opting for the I don’t want this call recorded option, to see what would result. A young fucker, who sounded like the worse sort of sadistic cop (certainly didn’t sound like the representative of a company I was paying good money to in order to communicate with those I care for) wanted to know my driver’s license number and told me I would have to call a different phone number.

    So let’s get this straight, the recent revelations have our wire tappers feeling even more Aggressive about any attempt to counter act Corporate and Political Abusers?

    (And yeah, Glenn’s Omidyar connection should be ominous to anyone who is not brain dead.)

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